Friday, December 09, 2016

Twisting the Truth or More Than a Hint

John aka AnvilCloud over at The AC is On  recently posted some lovely winter/holiday photos of the Christmas decorations in the yards in his neighborhood.  He has learned what fun you can have with manipulation of the original digital file.   His work reflects how warm and cozy you can make a photo that just needs a hint of tweaking.

I, on the other, never take a hint.  I am having fun totally smashing and crashing my way through the digital file and creating a totally different look.  When I read John's post I decided I should share with my readers the reckless fun I have working with my photography hobby.  And since I do not make my livelihood with this craft I can go whole out!

A month or more ago when we were slogging through the swamp to clean out the Wood Duck boxes and count the shells left behind, I took the time to photograph the lovely fall that surrounded us.  The original photo (maybe some sharpening) is below.

Now below the layered, lighting manipulated photo.  I am not crazy about the overexposed sky, but that was my mistake in taking the photo.

I sometimes give a standard photo more seasonal atmosphere.  The photo below was taken in my backyard when the small herd of deer moved through eating the abundance of acorns that had fallen.  She had turned away from eating because she heard the click of my camera and was trying to place where I was.  It may have sounded like the click of gun?

Now below is a bit of a winter holiday version which was cropped and lots of layers added.

Thanks for taking the time to read through all the way!

Monday, December 05, 2016

Enthusiasm Sometimes Fogs the Goal

noun [ C/U ] US ​ /ɪnˈθu·ziˌæz·əm/​
a feeling of energetic interest in a particular subject or activity and a desire to be involved in it, or a subject that produces such a feeling:
[ U ] I find that I’m losing my enthusiasm for the game.
[ C ] Parents need to share their enthusiasms with their children.

I spent Sunday afternoon at a meet and greet with enthusiastic people. They were also depressed. They were also angry. Perhaps it was fortunate that the 30 or more of us met in a therapy room and with a therapy dog who was such sweetie I wanted to steal him.  The therapy business was hosting the meeting and providing the space.  Over 50 signed up to attend and over 30 actually showed up.  This was a HUGE challenge for me as I am not someone who can in any remote sense look forward to a "meeting" much less one where I do not know a soul!  It was being held up-county, so I knew there was no chance of me running into anyone local to ease the angst.

I did not take photos because this was a "secret group" meeting.  Some of you already know what I am talking about and for those of you who do not, it makes no difference.  It is a superficial designation with good intentions.

Anyway, once the ice-breakers were finished, the room was filled with the chatter of estrogen.  I am sure it would have made some men deaf and others blind.  There was one young man there who left the second the meeting began to break up.

While the break out groups came up with no surprising issues to address and no surprising strategies to implement, their hearts and minds were in the right places.  Unfortunately the whole time I was there I kept thinking that other groups were doing this in smaller and more focused ways and with higher profiles.  Were we re-inventing the wheel?  Part of the discussion had to do with a name change for the group because the national umbrella had decided they wanted to be a "storytelling" group and if we wanted to be a pro-active group we had to use another name!  This group of ladies were definitely NOT going to tell stories.  They came from environmental groups, private businesses, state and county offices and several, like me, were retired.  They are blue ladies buried in red offices and social circles where they had been shouted down angrily if they tried to make a point or promote an issue.  They were gunshy, but in this setting realized they were not alone and that in numbers things get done.  Us older folks do not get gunshy easily.

I will probably not be active with them because at my age I have no patience for embryonic development.  The two leaders were beautiful, intelligent and broad thinking women and in just a month have pulled together a membership of over 1400 women from three counties.  I just was hoping they wanted to focus on more local tasks.  Maybe they will in time and I will monitor that.  Since I have one or two issues that burn holes in my mind and heart, I will probably begin to investigate and support groups that meet my narrow needs.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Guilt Free at Last

I was so relieved, like the good introvert that I am, about having very little on my calendar for December.  I hate meetings but my Puritan instinct insists I must participate in good causes.

Then the days began to get filled.  Thus far, I have at least three classes scheduled for my Peruvian student, a family get together in the city before Christmas to attend my granddaughter's play (and I think the next day they are squeezing in a bit of a birthday celebration for me!), on another week an evening at one of the concert theaters with my son and DIL, an organization meeting of a local group of liberal women to be proactive with our local and state legislatures, and one doctor's appointment---all before the family gets together for Christmas!

The above leaves out the shopping and card writing that also must be completed.

Some of you would view this as lovely, and warm, and inspiring.  But I have just finished reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain and admit that I have deep needs for being left alone for long periods of time.  It is an aberration, and to some extent not healthy, but it is strong somewhere in my genetic code.  If you are an extrovert who works with introverts, are married to or raising an introvert, or are an introvert yourself, you should read this book!  It has helped me become guilt free.

In the photo above is one of maybe four persimmon trees my husband has planted.  Because of this abundance, we have to find recipes to use and preserve the fruit.  I did purchase 4 venison medallions the other day and created a glace or sauce for the steaks using some leftover medoc and leftover coffee, made up a small half cup of beef bouillon, added a tablespoon of raspberry vinegar and the puree of two persimmons.  I cooked it all together until it was reduced to a nice sauce, and surprise, the experiment tasted quite nice on the steaks!  It was a good compliment to the side dish of bok choi that was just harvested from the garden even though it was starting to get bitter, using salt helped that.  But that used only two persimmons, actually three as we sliced the harder Japanese persimmon...I still have a long way to go.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Fake Venice on a Garbage Island

There are changes that I have made to my budget to be a bit more proactive as a citizen.  One of these was to take the half-price offer for digital versions of the New York Times which also includes a batch of free news magazines.  Conservatives say it is liberal trash propaganda and liberals say it has become a corporate shill for backing down on  hard hitting news against the conservative corporate machine.  Thus far I am feeling if I support it (at $7.50 a month) I will at least get a year of news reading that is not as awful as television has become.  It will give me news on everything and not just politics and I become the driver for time I want to read and what subjects I want to read, and since I do not have birds, I have no worry about newspapers to recycle.  I can read it on all my electrical devices.

I most recently read a book review:  "If Venice Dies" by Salvatore Settis.  I visited Venice decades ago and was so impressed by its exotic decadence.  I was a naive traveler at the time even though I had lived for some time outside the USA.  I have just spent time looking for Italy photos from 2003, after slides and after prints and finally found them on a DVD!

The photos that I took were from an older low resolution digital camera...wish I had been able to do better!

Now for some text from the review in the NY Times:

"The beginning of Mr. Settis’s book is its own plague of terrifying facts and figures. Today, visitors outnumber Venetians by 140 to 1. If tourism development continues apace, the city center may soon have no residential lodging at all. Among the institutions that have closed since 2000 along the Grand Canal: the National Research Council, the Mediocredito bank, the transport authority, the local education agency, the German Consulate. Souvenir shops have replaced grocery stores. Luxury hotels have replaced medical offices.

“A tourist monoculture now dominates a city,” Mr. Settis writes, “which banishes its native citizens and shackles the survival of those who remain to their willingness to serve.”

There’s a depressing falsity to it all. The city has become a replica of itself. Epcot by way of Palladio.   And the city is hostage to the tourism industry. Cruise ships blight the scenery, ravage the canals and disgorge their day trippers. Yet the governing class passively accepts it, “all in the name of a single reward: money.” What Venice desperately needs — which Mr. Settis doesn’t say until the penultimate page of his book — is a rehabilitation of its own industries, like fishing, and better infrastructure for a new creative class...

He devotes three chapters to lamenting the various simulacra of Venice around the world, including the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, which he fears are “corrupting the real Venice’s image of itself” by further reducing the city to caricature. The ultimate insult: a possible amusement park, Veniceland, on one of the islands in the Venetian Lagoon now dedicated to storing garbage. But will it happen? And if it did, would the resulting tragedy really be what he describes? “A fake Venice next to the real one, whereby the truth of the simulacrum shatters and engulfs the truth of history”?"

Interesting and depressing and enlightening all at the same time and I guess money and politics still raise their ugly heads.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Thursday Thirteen Dichotomy and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Defined with examples. (Please ignore the html numbering that I cannot seem to correct.)

  1. Reading about a 5-day fitness plan connected to my Fitbit newsletter while eating chocolate chip cookies.
  2. The photo below shows two bags of  textbooks.  One I brought and the other my new student brought to our first class meeting.  You can guess which was hers and why I am now jogging in place as fast as I can!
  1. I have been better about doing my free weight routine every other day...then on the days I am not working with weights I am lifting other things---to my mouth.
  2. I had fiddled with my settings on Blogger to make it easier for me to use the template and it seems to have resulted in my readers being unable to find my blog updates.
  3. I changed the bedding in the guest bedroom last week after my young-uns had left and because I complained about hubby's snoring keeping me awake last night he said, with a smile, I should just sleep up there since the sheets are clean.
  4. I wrote a brief poem on my other blog, but like this blog, no one can seem to find it!
  5. Each year I send out a list of possible things we would like to get in order to help busy children with their Christmas gifting, and as a result, I usually know what is beneath the wrapping paper on Christmas morning.
  6. We have a new brand of supermarket in the area.  The produce looks fresher but the meat selection is not so good.
  7. I have been carefully searching for real news sites that are not dependent on corporations for profit as much of the "liberal" press skims real news these days and now walks on eggshells since our new leader does not give much access, but this also means I am still reading news which is depressing.
  8. I have a list which I have printed and placed next to my PC of  liberal news (im)postors that post click-bait junk and misleading headlines to my Facebook feed.  I no longer visit those news sites.  I also have a list of conservative news "impostors" on Facebook, but I rarely read them anyway.  An imposter is an imposter.
  9. I have begun my bird counting.  The first two days were so windy I could barely see the little brown birds  among the little brown leaves, both hopping about.
  10. We are eating out at a restaurant for Thanksgiving which means no food shopping or cooking or clean up.  It also means no family and no leftovers and no homemade items.
  11. If you wonder why the world seems to be a dichotomy for me, the leader of the free world, while speaking with clarity, keeps changing his verbal position to an opposite stance on so very many things and this is very confusing to me.  I like consistency in old age.  Experience has shown it is wise.
Yes, I am a little bent out of shape these days...but not this skinny!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Turning the Corner on the Wall

While I am not sure that the God most people believe in is anything like the energy of goodness that remains on this planet, I am sure that there is some good reason I am here at this time and place from some energy force I cannot see.  I have gone through many roller coaster thoughts about what this man who says one thing and does another or does one thing and says another while surrounding himself by white people who think that minorities have taken away opportunities for white Americans and advocate that women need to look "good" if they want to work in commerce.  (Artificial breasts along with artificial smiles, perhaps?  Whatever you do, do NOT contradict the men in the room.)

Anyway, before I get off on this rant that is happening on all social media, I repeat that I am blessed.  I will be starting today to train a middle-aged immigrant woman in better use of English so that she can work her way forward in this world.  I understand she ran a business in Peru before she came here.  I do not know if she came legally or illegally, but she has registered for classes, so I am guessing she is a legal immigrant trying to find a better life.  I feel the heavy responsibility, but I am practical enough to know that we are our own changemakers and not our mentors.

I may keep you posted, although I think this is going to be a bit of a whirlwind of a curriculum as she is super motivated and very smart.

As a mentor I get to bask in the glory of saying I am doing something to turn around this ship of fate no matter how small, while I ask myself, "How fast did Rome fall?"